Good Business

OnStar: Shame on you

Posted on September 22, 2011. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Life | Tags: , , , , , |

For the record I do not own a GM car, but have thought the introduction of OnStar emergency services was a wonderful idea.  And when I saw that you could now purchase OnStar at BestBuy for installation on any car, well I was elated.  Was even considering buying one for my wife’s car.

Now however, my high regard for OnStar has come crashing to the ground … perhaps even below ground.

In the article below it is revealed that OnStar now continuously monitors your vehicle and sells that information to insurance companies, law enforcement, and anyone else who might be interested. 

To put it another way:  Customers purchase the OnStar service and pay a monthly fee so that OnStar can profit even more by selling detailed customer information. 

 That’s just too much of an invasion of privacy for me.

Article:

GM’s OnStar now spying on your car for profit even after you unsubscribe? [UPDATE]

OnStar
 

By Zach Bowman RSS feed

Posted Sep 21st 2011 4:28Pm

 
If you’re the owner of a fairly new General Motors product, you may want to take a close look at the most recent OnStar terms and conditions. As it turns out, the company has altered the parameters under which it can legally collect GPSdata on your vehicle.Originally, the terms and conditions stated that OnStar could only collect information on your vehicle’s location during a theft recovery or in the midst of sending emergency services your way. That has apparently changed. Now, OnStar says that it has the right to collect and sell personal, yet supposedly anonymous information on your vehicle, including speed, location, seat belt usage and other information.

Who would be interested in that data, you ask? Law enforcement agencies, for starters, as well as insurance companies. Perhaps the most startling news to come out of the latest OnStar terms and conditions is the fact that the company can continue to collect the information even after you disconnect the service. If you want the info to be cut off all together, you’ll have to specifically shut down the vehicle’s data connection. If that sounds scary, you should check out a full breakdown of the new policies here.

*UPDATE: OnStar has released a statement in response to the dust up over its newest set of terms and conditions:

 
New Terms & ConditionsThe following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

“OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We’ve also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

“Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection “open” could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues.

“Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers’ requests.

“Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers’ personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers’ personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

“Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

“We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it’s apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers’ feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns.”

 
Sorry OnStar, I’m not buying it . . . or your product. 
 
That’s my 2 cents
 
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Reprimanding 101

Posted on March 18, 2011. Filed under: Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Labor, Life | Tags: , , , |

From time to time even the best of employees may require a performance correction.  But there is a right way and a wrong way to correct or reprimand someone.

No one likes to have their supervisor tell them that they are messing up, and frankly these conversations can be more unsettling to the employee than you might imagine.

For our purposes right now I am talking about oral not written reprimands.

Being told you are “messing up” is very embarrassing, and should be done away from coworkers.  Heaping public humiliation on the employee not only demoralizes them, but also their coworkers; and it diminishes your stature.

What is the correct way to reprimand an employee?

1. You move them into your office or at the very least out of ear-shot of coworkers.

2. Always speak in a calm voice.  If you can’t be calm then wait until you can be.

3. Tell them what you observed that was wrong, and allow them to tell their side of the story.  Maybe what you saw or heard was only part of the story.  You need to be sure of your facts before proceeding.

4. If they were in error explain exactly what they did wrong and how they should handle it next time.

5. Do not threaten, lay blame, be sarcastic, or talk down to the employee.

When you take an employee aside they are automatically on the defensive, but raising your voice only adds to the defensiveness and tension.  Neither you nor the employee need that.

In retail situations I have seen managers reprimand employees in front of customers, that should never be done.

Employees want to do a good job, your job as a manager is to help them do the best job they possibly can.

You do not want them to live in fear of you.  You should have their respect and trust, and you get that by being considerate in all your dealings with your team.  That includes the way you reprimand.

Treat your employees well, and they in turn will do the best job they know how, which will take care of your customers and your business.

Are there times you want to beat your head against the wall?  Sure.

And there will be times when you will not understand how they could possibly have done something so silly, but take a deep breath and count to ten a couple of times.

Everyone makes mistakes, even you.  So reprimand privately, quietly, and with respect for the individual.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Creating a Print Ad

Posted on July 11, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

I have spoken in other articles that your headline is of primary importance. 

While you should pay careful attention to every word in your ad, you have got to get the headline right.  If the headline doesn’t grab their attention then they aren’t going to read your ad, no matter how wonderful the copy is.

Size Matters

A large ad has a much better chance of being seen and read over a small ad.

The smallest print ad in a newspaper or magazine I would recommend is 1/4 page.  (Yellow page advertising is an entirely different subject.)

Those small business card size ads simply do no pull customers.  They do tend to create a number of salespeople calling you, trying to sell you something.  Not what you want an ad to do.

Graphics Can Help

An appropriate graphic can help draw a prospect into your ad.  However, sometimes a graphic can distract so much from your message that it actually hurts the effectiveness of the ad.

If the image provides information or helps to illustrate your message, that’s fine; but don’t put in a graphic just because it is “cute” or “funny”, those are the wrong reasons to have a graphic.

You wouldn’t put in words that diminish your message, so don’t utilize a graphic that diminishes your message.

Reverse Type

Some people in the ad business think reverse type is a real attention grabber.  It isn’t.

Reverse type is when you have a dark background with light-colored letters.  Most frequently a black background with white letters.  Generally, it is much more difficult to read reverse type than normal type, such as the words in this article.

Reading reverse type takes longer and requires more effort from the brain simply because you mind is not accustomed to reading reverse type.

There are times when reverse type can be useful in getting a prospects attention, such as:

The words are large and easy to see; there are just two words; and the red helps to attract our attention.  Using reverse to draw attention to a specific element is fine, but don’t make the entire ad in reverse

 

Color Can Help

Color can highlight important information, draw the readers eye to certain areas, and in general make the ad more visually appealing.

But sometimes less is better.  Just because you have the option of color doesn’t mean you need to utilize it.  I have seen some very powerful and effective ads that were simple black & white.

Not all colors work well together.  People can not focus on the colors red and blue at the same time.

While it may appear that you are seeing them at the same time, it is an illusion.  In reality, your mind is switching from red to blue and back again so quickly that it appears “normal” to you.

A final word about color. 

Red denotes action, use it to grab a readers attention, (Act Fast), or have your call to action in red, such as Call Now.

Blue elicits trust, so key words and phrases such as Trust Brock, or a headline in blue, (Brock Increases Your Sales), would give the reader an unconscious favorable impression.

Serif or San-Serif?

Some type fonts are simply easier to read.  Most, (but not all), books, newspapers, and magazines are printed with a serif font.

The font in this article has “feet”; while some fonts such as Aerial do not.  That’s the difference.

Generally, it is easier to read a serif font than it is to read a san-serif.  Why? Books have forever been printed in a serif font, and like black on white printing, it is what our minds are accustomed to.

By now you have no doubt noticed that I use a san-serif font.  To me it gives a cleaner appearance in electronic communications, and that’s why I use it.

Your Ad Copy

This is where you present the (hopefully) compelling information that will get consumers to pick up the phone and call, or rush to your business with wads of cash in their hands.

Make your points clear, concise, succinct, and simple.

I urge that not because the reader is mentally challenged, just the opposite. 

People don’t read what doesn’t interest them; so you need to get your points across as quickly and clearly as possible.

Make important points in large bold print, and then provide additional information and details in smaller “normal” size print.

You do not need to tell the prospect everything in one ad.  The purpose is to get their attention, “wet thei appetite”, and hopefully seek you out for complete information.

The Most Important Word

This one word in all of marketing  is the most important:  YOU

All of your material should focus on the customer and personalize it as much as possible.

It’s not “We help customers increase sales”, it’s “We help you increase sales”, or “What would increased sales mean to you?”, or “What would increased sales mean to your company?”

Personalize all of your marketing, not just the print ads, but radio, television, and especially when doing a face-to-face sales presentation. 

Make it personal and make it count.

 And that’s my 2 cents.

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Thoughts on Networking

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: Brock Henderson, Business, Good Business, Guerilla Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Sales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

I attended a networking event today that overall was quite enjoyable.  We met at a local Italian restaurant, had a bit of open networking then sat down to eat. 

After eating came a period networking that was “speed dating” style.  Half of us remained seated and the other half rotated from person/position to person/position every five minutes.  Got to meet a great many very nice individuals.  Some were competitors, but they were still nice people.

But I was struck by the number of individuals, (about four), that would hand me a business card with scratched out information and corrected information hand written on the card.

For one individual it was, in my mind anyway, excusable — she had only recently started with the company and they hadn’t gotten her business cards yet.

One individual had so much hand written on the card, and so much scratched out that it almost looked like he had simply picked up someone’s business card and scribbled his info on it.

Is that the kind of image you want to give as a business professional?  Computer generated business cards, while not top-of-the-line in image, would have been better than a card all scribbled on.

That business card is how people will remember you, and this gentleman will certainly be remembered . . . but not in a good way.  Oh, his profession?  Marketing Consultant.  What kind of marketing message does a scribbled business card send? 

To add to the image problem he wore jeans, while the rest of us were in business attire; and his body language screamed “I don’t care”.

It’s not unusual to form strategic alliances with competitors on occasion, but I saw no reason to want to form any alliance with this gentleman.  He certainly seemed like a nice individual, but his attitude, attire, and business card all said “unprofessional”.

In marketing you should be presenting a unified image.  All your marketing materials, letter head, staff, and everything else needs to be sending the same message about you and your company.  When they don’t match it sends an unconsious signal to your prospect that something isn’t right; and they become reluctant to do business with you.

Make sure you are sending the right message every time you step out the door.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Speak Up

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Public Relations, Sales, Self Promotion | Tags: , , , , |

I was talking to a friend of mine that owns a lawn service and the conversation came around to public speaking. 

He indicated that they were thinking about going to local groups and talking about lawn care and he asked if I thought that would be a good idea.

Yes!

However, I cautioned him not to make it a ten minute commercial about his business, but to make it an educational talk.

Give them insight as to when is the best time to prune trees or shrubs.

How often to sharpen your lawn mower blades, and how to do it.

When’s the best time to seed your lawn, or fertilize, or spray week killer.

Present yourself as the expert in your field … because you are!

Then when they need your services your name will be the first to come to mind as the person to call.

Make your presentation interesting and informative, but never about you.

Groups are always looking for guest speakers, just start asking around.  There are garden clubs, church groups, Optimist clubs, Rotary clubs, networking groups, and a host of various civic groups that you can approach.

Make it clear that you aren’t giving a sales presentation, but are talking about your industry in general. 

It’s informational, nothing else.

Different groups will have different time constraints, but expect to be given five to ten minutes for your presentation, with a couple of minutes for questions afterward.

 That’s my 2 cents.

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What’s The Difference?

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Business, Good Business, Marketing | Tags: , , , , |

People, even experienced business and marketing professionals, are often confused in their understanding the differences between selling, advertising, and marketing.  And yes, there are significant differences.

Selling— This is the face-to-face meeting between a representative of the company and a prospect.

It should never be about pressure, arm twisting, or “getting one over” on the prospect. 

It is all about the salesperson solving the prospects problems or needs utilizing their companies products and services.

Advertising— Commercials.  Radio and television commercials; newspaper and magazine print ads; billboards; direct mail, web ads and e-mail ads.

Mass communication presenting your products to your target audience. 

Marketing— This certainly includes selling and advertising, but encompasses a lot of other elements as well.

Basically, anything that communicates a message about your company, its products, services, or image is marketing.

For example, Public Relations are used to enhance a companies image or stature within a community, and sometimes to repair damage caused by scandal or misdeeds of the company or its executives.

Trade shows are a staple for many businesses, and while not typically seen by the general public they are an essential part of a companies marketing effort. 

(If you haven’t already, you may want to download my White Paper on Effective Trade Show Marketing from my web site.)

Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and brochures all convey a message about the identity and image of a company.

How individuals within the company treat customers, their tone of voice, friendliness, and general demeanor all convey an image to the customer. 

Promotional products that may be given out by salespeople to clients and prospects also say a lot about your company and its image.

All of these things — and lots more — fall under the broad heading of marketing.

If its got your name or logo on it, if it represents you in any way, shape, form or fashion, then its part of your marketing.

One last item that most don’t think of as marketing:  the quality of your product or service.

High quality says one thing about you and poor quality says the opposite.

Pay attention to all of your marketing images.

That’s my 2 cents.

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World’s 50 Best Resturants

Posted on April 27, 2010. Filed under: Brock Henderson, Business, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Want to know where to eat the next time you are in London, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, or some other major city in the world.  Here’s a list of the best places to eat in the world . . . cost of a meal is not reported.

(Begin Article)

By Sarah LeTrent and Kat Kinsman, Special to CNN (CNN)
Danish cuisine reigns supreme, according to the some of the planet’s most prominent eaters.

S. Pellegrino’s annual “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list was released on Monday at a celebrity-chef-studded event in London, England, marking the ninth edition of the much buzzed-about (and hotly debated) catalogue of the international culinary landscape.

The No. 1 spot goes to Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. The restaurant, helmed by chef René Redzepi, ranked No. 3 in 2009. The Guardian newspaper’s restaurant critic Jay Rayner — better known to U.S. food fans as a judge on “Top Chef Masters” — agrees with the judges’ decision.

Writes Rayner on The Guardian’s food blog, “Is that the right result? Allowing for the fact that I think the rankings are far less interesting than the list itself, I would say, yes. Redzepi, the 32-year-old chef at Noma, pursues a regional, seasonal agenda that is right on the cutting edge: if it isn’t available in the Nordic region, he won’t cook with it. The result is a very idiosyncratic style of food that speaks to concerns about the way a global food culture turns our eating experiences a uniform beige.”

Noma’s ascension to the top slot ends the reign of a culinary titan.

After four consecutive years ranked as the World’s Best Restaurant, Spanish restaurant El Bulli takes a seat at No. 2. However, that won’t make it any easier to snag a table. Only 8,000 reservations are accepted every year, out of a reported million requests.

The dethroning of Catalonia’s culinary king, Ferran Adrià, comes after his announcement of plans to close the Mecca of molecular gastronomy for two years in December 2011.

In 2014, the restaurant will reopen as a nonprofit foundation — “a think tank of gastronomic creativity” for 20 to 25 young chefs. Despite the second-place finish, Adrià was still awarded Restaurant Magazine’s Chef of the Decade honor.

The illustrious list is compiled by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy — an 806-member panel of the globe’s most venerated chefs, food critics, restaurateurs and gourmands.

“The list creates tremendous debate — and it’s meant to,” according to the World’s 50 Best release.

Eight of the restaurants crowned this year — Alinea in Chicago, Illinois; Daniel, Per Se, Le Bernardin, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, wd~50 and Eleven Madison Park in New York; and The French Laundry in Yountville, California — are in the United States, this year’s most honored country.

Of the remaining 42 top finishers, six are in France; Spain and Italy each have five. Here is the full list:

1) Noma (Copenhagen, Denmark)

2) El Bulli (Roses, Spain)

3) The Fat Duck (Bray, England)

4) El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

5) Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

6) Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)

7) Alinea (Chicago, Illinois)

8) Daniel (New York)

9) Arzak (San Sebastián, Spain)

10) Per Se (New York)

11) Le Chateaubriand (Paris, France)

12) La Colombe (Cape Town, South Africa)

13) Pierre Gagnaire (Paris, France)

14) L’Hotel de Ville – Philippe Rochat (Crissier, Switzerland)

15) Le Bernardin (New York)

16) L’Astrance (Paris, France)

17) Hof Van Cleve (Kruishoutem, Belgium)

18) D.O.M. (São Paolo, Brazil)

19) Oud Sluis (Sluis, Netherlands)

20) Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

21) Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

22) Vendôme (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany)

23) Chef Dominique (Helsinki, Finland)

24) Les Créations de Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)

25) Mathias Dahlgren (Stockholm, Sweden)

26) Momofuku Ssäm Bar (New York)

27) Quay Restaurant (Sydney, Australia)

28) Iggy’s (Singapore)

29) L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (Paris, France)

30) Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)

31) Le Quartier Français (Franschhoek, South Africa)

32) The French Laundry (Yountville, California)

33) Martin Berasategui (Lasarte-oria, Spain)

34) Aqua (Bath, England)

35) Combal Zero (Rivoli, Italy)

36) Dal Pescatore (Montava, Italy)

37) De Librije (Zwolle, Netherlands)

38) Tetsuya’s (Sydney, Australia)

39) Jaan Par Andre (Singapore)

40) Il Canto (Siena, Italy)

41) Alain Ducasse Au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)

42) Oaxen Krog (Oaxen, Sweden)

43) St. John (London, England)

44) La Maison Troisgros (Roanne, France)

45) wd~50 (New York)

46) Biko (Mexico City, Mexico)

47) Die Schwarzwaldstube (Baiersbronn, Germany)

48) Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)

49) Hibiscus (London, England)

50) Eleven Madison Park (New York)

(End Article)

If any of you have ever eaten at any of these resturants I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on the quality of their food.

That’s my 2 cents.

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Are Your Customers Doing Your Job?

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: Brock Henderson, Business, Customer Service, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was sitting at an Arby’s waiting for my daughter to get out of school when I noticed something.

Frequently … way to often it seemed to me … a drive-through customer would pull around to the front of the restaurant and wait for their order to be brought out to them.  A number of them would then get out of their cars and come in and wait for their order.

What good is a drive-through if the customer has to come inside to pick up their order?

As a customer I would be outraged if, after placing my order outside, I would need to come in and pick up my order.  It would be easier just to go in and get my order to go.

I asked one of the workers why they did this, and her response was that they are timed on the length of time it takes to handle drive-through customers.

So in order to make their numbers look good, they “cheat” the system and have customers pull around front.

I suspected a lot of fast food places do this in order to “look good” to corporate, so I did a very unscientific study.  The problem seems to exhibit itself at some McDonald’s and Burger King’s as well.

But how insulting it is to the customer; they are putting the customer at an inconvenience rather than improve their work flow.

This raises the question:  Are you making your customers do things that your team should be taking care of?

Several months back I needed a locksmith to put a better lock on my doors.  He did fine, but left trash and wood chips all around the work areas for me to clean up.

Contrast that with a plumber that came out.  He did his job, (and it was a very messy and odorous job), cleaned up, used a fan to help move the odor out of the house, and left no trace of his having been there. 

That’s the way it should be.

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you have, or how small and insignificant the task, never have your customer do anything that you can and should do.

The customer is paying for your service or product, they shouldn’t have to do any of your work.

It wouldn’t have taken the locksmith five minutes to clean up after himself, but he didn’t bother.

It took the plumber several minutes to clean up and deodorize, but he did it anyway.

I’ll never use that locksmith again, but I have used that plumber again, and recommend him whenever I can.

Don’t make your customers do your job.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Don’t Quit

Posted on December 3, 2009. Filed under: Business, Good Business, Life, Marketing, Sales | Tags: , , , , , , , |

According to Herbert True, of Notre Dame University:

44% of all salespeople quit trying after the first sales call.

24% quit after the second sales call.

14% quit after the third sales call.

12% quit after the fourth sales call.

60% of all sales are made after the fourth call.

That means 94% of all salespeople are missing out on sales because they quit too soon.

Other research has shown that most sales are closed between the 5th and 7th sales call.

Are you one of the 94% that has given up?

I have said this before, and I say it again.

It is better to approach one prospect seven times, than to approach seven prospects one time.

Persistence counts so much more than you realize.  Keep at it.

 That’s my 2 cents

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Effective Employee Pre-Screening

Posted on October 12, 2009. Filed under: Business, Good Business, Labor, Personnel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Lahna Harris2

Finding qualified good employees can be difficult, frustrating, time consuming, expensive, and a real pain in the back side.

Some prospects might over-state their qualifications, and a few flat out falsify information on their resume.

One way to help determine if a candidate is right for your organization is to have them submit a handwriting sample, and let an expert in handwriting analysis take a look at it.

Lahna Harris is a highly qualified expert in handwriting analysis, and her fees are manageable for any size business.

Her web site is:  www.holisticwellnesstherapies.net

Try handwriting analysis the next time you need to hire someone and see how it helps you.

I personally know Lahna and will gladly attest to her competence.

That’s my 2 cents.

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